Germany's Worst Enemy
“Those Who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I have always doubted this much-quoted dictum by the philosopher George Santayana. When does history ever repeat itself? Now, however, when I think about Germany, I have misgivings. True, the world has learned from the German past. Yet is it possible that now, forty-five years after the end of World War II, history might repeat itself nevertheless? Where Germany is concerned, only three things are certain: reunification is an accomplished fact; the country is at a monumental crossroads; and the way it goes will have a huge effect on the world. Still quite uncertain, to me at any rate, is where Germany will go.
The longing for the Middle Ages began in Germany at the very moment when the actual Middle Ages—the Holy Roman Empire ruled by a German—came to an end in what was then thought to be the moment of Germany’s deepest humiliation. In Germany, and there alone, did the end of the Middle Ages coincide with the beginning of the longing for the Middle Ages.
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